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Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature Lecture

Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature

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Publisher's Summary

Can literature change our real world society? At its foundation, utopian and dystopian fiction asks a few seemingly simple questions aimed at doing just that. Who are we as a society? Who do we want to be? Who are we afraid we might become? When these questions are framed in the speculative versions of Heaven and Hell on earth, you won't find easy answers, but you will find tremendously insightful and often entertaining perspectives.

Utopian and dystopian writing sits at the crossroads of literature and other important academic disciplines such as philosophy, history, psychology, politics, and sociology. It serves as a useful tool to discuss our present condition and future prospects - to imagine a better tomorrow and warn of dangerous possibilities. To examine the future of mankind through detailed and fascinating stories that highlight and exploit our anxieties in adventurous, thought-provoking, and engaging ways. From Thomas More's foundational text Utopia published in 1516 to the 21st-century phenomenon of The Hunger Games, dive into stories that seek to find the best - and the worst - in humanity, with the hope of better understanding ourselves and the world. Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature delivers 24 illuminating lectures, led by Pamela Bedore, Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, which plunge you into the history and development of utopian ideas and their dystopian counterparts. You'll encounter some of the most powerful and influential texts in this genre as you travel centuries into the past and thousands of years into the future, through worlds that are beautiful, laughable, terrifying, and always thought-provoking.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2017 The Great Courses

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  •  
    CRG2 08-06-17
    CRG2 08-06-17
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    "Fascinating Lectures on Utopian and Dystopian Literature"

    First of all, in regard to the "hijacked by feminism" complaint made by another reviewer: I'd hardly say that a discussion of Charlotte Perkins Gilman or Margaret Atwood constitutes a hijacking by feminism (and I'm not particularly sympathetic to 2nd and 3rd wave feminism). I'm politically oriented toward the right, so a feminist tirade would turn me off. But this installment of the Great Courses is not a feminist tirade in whole or in part.

    What it is: An utterly fascinating and absorbing series of lectures on utopian and dystopian literature, from Thomas More and Jonathan Swift through Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edward Bellamy, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Ursula Le Guin, and on up through the present. Several films (such as Soylent Green) and other pop culture artifacts (the Hunger Games novels and the attraction of young adult readers to dystopian fiction today) are discussed.

    The professor is clearly in love with her subject, and her voice is bubbling over with excitement and enthusiasm. It's infectious. It makes the listener excited and enthusiastic as well. I couldn't stop listening. At the end of every 30 minute lecture, I kept saying to myself: "Maybe just one more lecture." But then 30 minutes later I'd be saying that same thing. All in all, this is an excellent product, and I look forward to more great stuff from the Great Courses series.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. H. 04-06-17
    N. H. 04-06-17 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A very enjoyable and educational audiobook"

    I won a free Audible credit from the Audiobook Addicts facebook group. I chose The Great Courses title Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature. I have enjoyed many of the Great Courses before and the topic really appealed to me. Professor Bedore does a fantastic job of presenting the material while keeping it very interesting for the listener. The course has twenty-four lessons totaling over twelve hours.

    The course begins with a discussion of what Utopian and Dystopian mean. The next lesson starts the discussion of the first Utopian work by Thomas More. There are several lessons covering the other Utopian writers such as Swift and H. G. Wells. The course then moves on to the Dystopias. It covers much more than Orwell's 1984. The breath of the course is really amazing. It covers The Hunger Games and the Apocalyptic works of this century. The final lesson is on the future of the two genres.

    The accompanied course guide, in Adobe pdf format, is amazing. It is over two hundred and forty pages of information. Each lesson has an outline of what is covered and a Suggested Reading section as well as Questions to consider. The Bibliography at the end is incredible. It is going to populate my to-read list for years to come.

    Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature was a very enjoyable and educational audiobook. I would recommend it for anyone who reads Utopian or Dystopian genres.

    22 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M Lewis California 05-07-17
    M Lewis California 05-07-17 Member Since 2010
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    "Highly topical, informative, and entertaining"
    Where does Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This was one of the most enjoyable audiobook experience I have had.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    This audiobook, or rather lecture series made me genuinely excited about exploring Dystopian works of literature. The treatment seemed comprehensive but not tedious. Prof Bedfore was communicated her passion about the topic with clarity and humor. She expanded my view of this literature well beyond the basics.

    It is also a highly topical since Dystopian works from The Handmaid's Tale to the Walking Dead, to the Hunger Games, to Wayward pines seem to be very popular now.

    She also relates Utopian literature to the many failed attempts over the year to create real-life Utopias.

    Finally, I am shocked that I never stumbled upon Russian author Zamyatin's Novel "We" which is features extraordinarily beautiful writing. One can see the direct line between WE and 1984 and Brave New world.

    I felt enlighten after listening to the Prof's lectures.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Well, yes, if it is possible


    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe van Rensburg 09-08-17 Member Since 2016
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    "A marvelous introduction to a new genre for me"
    Would you listen to Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature again? Why?

    I would certainly listen to Prof Bedore's intelligently scripted, passionately delivered lectures again. It has hooked me and I am now watching the TV series The Handmaids Tale, something I may not have chosen before. I will also dust off my Clockwork Orange DVD and Brave New World now features on my audible wish list.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The obvious delight that the lecturer takes in delivering her subject. I need this kind of passionate delivery, I am not a great reader or an intellectual - seeming to fall more for conceptual, perhaps visual ideas, I was driving in my car in traffic ridden Johannesburg when the Prof delivered her take on Brave New World and A Clockwork Orange and I was instantly drawn into the spectacle of the Kubrick Masterpiece and resolve now to visit A Brave New World


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Many scenes captivated me. I had seen 1984 years ago and the film left me with a bleak, morose impression. I had not thought much about Utopian or Distopian narratives in intervening years up to now, but Prof Bedore's presentations has changed that. I am also intrigued by works of apocalyptic visions like Cormic McCarthy's the Road. Which I will now seek out, and the movie too.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    The best and the worst of all possible worlds


    Any additional comments?

    I am not sure if there is more of Professor Bedore's work available on audio on this topic, if not, there should be

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Carrollton, Tx 06-26-17
    Amazon Customer Carrollton, Tx 06-26-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Wandering course..."

    Utopian or just science fiction, professor seems uncertain...

    If you want ethical analysis take a different course. Utopian feminism and LGBTQ literature is emphasized.

    17 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-01-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great subject, not so great instructor"

    Her ostentatious pronunciation of French names ranks among history's most awful crimes, and it seems strange that an expert in genre fiction would not know how to pronounce Dashiell Hammett's name. There is a possibility that you may hear about some books you haven't read before, but not if you're a fan of the genre already, and it's an awkward, irritating slog for a few nuggets of insight. I returned this course half way through.

    17 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    will 02-14-17
    will 02-14-17 Member Since 2015
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    "A good tour"

    An intricate tour through the genre, featuring entries that will intrigue and others that will unsettle.

    10 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cezar 04-20-17
    Cezar 04-20-17 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nice journey"
    Any additional comments?

    Very good overview. I also got lot of nice suggestions of books to start next. I already purchased 4 titles mentioned in this course.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kilgore Trout 04-11-17
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    "I want my credit back!"

    I'm a huge fan of dystopian fiction, so was delighted to see this title. I purchased it, given the 4+ star rating. I feel deep regret. I want my credit back!!!

    Once we get out of her coverage of utopia, the narrative is almost entirely dominated by feminism, female authors, and felt entirely unbalanced.

    Had the heavy feminist bent been written in the description, I'd have skipped this lecture entirely. I have no problem with feminist discussion, but I was expecting something more focused on the stories, rather than sex and gender.

    Additionally, for a college professor, her pronunciation is often horrific. She says 'excetera' for etcetera, and 'eye-er-knee' for irony. These mistakes made it even more difficult to take the lecturer seriously.

    54 of 104 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. 10-14-17
    M. 10-14-17 Member Since 2011
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    "one of the best courses, very timely"

    She covers the historical, the current, the implications, how these story types break down and where they hold up. Very interesting and good recommendations if haven't read everything she talks about. Super Euro/western centric, so if you want to hear about these fiction types from any other perspectives in the world, you won't get it here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Mr
    United Kingdom
    6/27/17
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    "I have been challenged to rethink."

    I've had trouble with this book. It has forced me to look again at some of my views & values regarding Gender types, Young adult literature and many of my political views. I have not always liked what I've heard, but isnt that the whole point?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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